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Crisis Nursery in Larimer Will Fill a Need, Founders Believe

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Originally Published On: April 16, 2014
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In the months before Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting, organizers of Pittsburgh’s first crisis nursery heard almost daily from desperate parents.

A homeless mother hiding from an abusive partner said she had nowhere to take her baby when she looked for work. An expectant mother, whose husband is deployed with the military overseas, had a Caesarean section scheduled but no one to watch her child.

“On one hand, it breaks my heart that there’s that much need, but on the other hand, at least we’re here now,” said LouAnn Ross, executive director of the nonprofit crisis child care center Jeremiah’s Place in Larimer.

The nursery, which will provide free care for children as old as age 6, is set to open on Monday in the Kingsley Association building. It will accept children from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., but has bedrooms and eventually will provide 24/7 care for children for up to 72 hours, Ross said.

Dr. Lynne Williams, a pediatrician, learned about crisis nurseries from a medical student in 2010 and began working to start one in Pittsburgh with the help of Dr. Tammy Murdock, an obstetrician and gynecologist, and Eileen Sharbaugh, a former teacher.

A survey of 78 families from Pittsburgh’s eastern neighborhoods found that 14 percent of parents, at some time during the past year, left their children with someone whose last name they didn’t know, whose address they didn’t know, who had an anger management problem or who they knew couldn’t care for a child, Williams said.

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